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From The Editors Desk
Hey Blues Fans,
I was fortunate to be introduced to Lionel Young's music at the International Blues Challenge in 2008. Lionel was one of the finalists and as we watched him perform a solo set on an electric fiddle it was clear that he was something special.
But Blues on a fiddle? With a bow? Could he win the Blues challenge with what most thought of as an orchestra instrument? It sure didn't sound like any orchestra instrument we had heard. This was pure Delta bliss delivered with only four strings
The answer was YES! He won the solo/duet category of the 2008 International Blues Challenge.
Fast forward to 2011 and Lionel was back at the Blues Challenge with a crack band of musicians with a tight sound and show in his quest to strike gold again. These guys had the best show of any band there and it was obvious before the scores were tallied Lionel had achieved something no one else had ever done. He had won both the solo/duet category and the band category of the of the International Blues Challenge!
Chefjimi Patricola caught up with Lionel recently and asked him how he did this fantastic accomplishment. Read his interview to find out about all the HARD WORK and preparation that went in to making this feat look SO EASY!
Good Blues To You!
In This Issue
Chefjimi Patricola has our feature interview with Lionel Young. James "Skyy Dobro" Walker reviews a new CD by David Berchtold & Brian Stear. George "Blues Fin Tuna" Fish reviews a new CD by Lee Pons. Steve Jones reviews a new CD by Nebojsa Buhin Nebo. John Mitchell reviews a new CD from Samantha Fish, Cassie Taylor and Dani Wilde. Mark Thompson reviews a new CD by Todd Sharpville. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
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Presented by Metro PCS
Featured Blues Story - Lionel Young Interview
Lionel Young is the first double champion in the history of the IBC. Lionel Young won the 2008 IBC in the solo-duo category, and the 2011 International Blues Challenge (IBC) band competition as The Lionel Young Band.
I first met Lionel on the October 2009 Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, the infamous 'cruise to nowhere'. That was the cruise that ran into hurricanes and we just did donuts in the Pacific Ocean. It seemed that Lionel was everywhere on that cruise, whether it be playing as a band or jamming in with Debbie Davies, Fiona Boyes and the historic late night jams. He was impressive not only in his musical prowess but also for his openness and friendliness shown to all who enjoyed his shows.
I wanted to speak to him because he is from Rochester, NY – adopted home of Son House for many years. Here is our conversation.
BB: You were taking violin lessons when you were six years old at The Eastman. How did this happen?
LY: It happened this way. My mother saw an article in the local newspaper about a woman who was going to start teaching violin a revolutionary new way. Her name was Anastasia Jempelis. The way that she was teaching is called the Suzuki Method derived from a man from Japan, Shinichi Suzuki. It focused on a thing called the mother tongue method, which is a way of learning music on an instrument by ear or imitation.
BB: Who were your early influences, and who would you say are at your musical Roots?
LY: I would say my earliest strong musical influence was from my family, which was very musical. My mother played piano and organ very well. She played organ in the church we went to. Both of my parents had strong musical tastes. My dad grew up in New Orleans & had lots of records, mostly jazz. My sister was a good pianist in her own right and listened to a lot of soul, R&B and funk. I would often raid my dad and sisters record collections so their music got into my musical veins. My favorites were people to listen to out of their collections were Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, James Brown, Aretha, Miles Davis, and Funkadelic. This was along with the fact that my brother played the cello and I played violin early in our lives. I was 6 and he was 5 when we started. My brother now plays in the Boston Symphony. I consider us lucky to have lived in a city like Rochester and have an Eastman School of Music to go to. Our teachers and fellow students became strong influences. Every week we were exposed to high level musicians playing. Those were my strongest earlier influences. It was later on that I became obsessed with Hendrix and the Beatles, and even later after digging up their influences when I caught the blues & boogie woogie flu that I felt I had to play the blues. Also, I was a good researcher. I'd go find out about and listen to all of these old records for hours on hours. For a little while in high school, I got so obsessed with violin music and the blues, that I'd skip school and go to the library to listen to and later play music all day. How square is that? I think at one point I skipped a couple weeks straight doing nothing but that until it was found out. I got into a little trouble with the school and my folks. It was my passion and I couldn't stop. I haven't stopped yet.
BB: I saw you on the October 2009 Bluescruise, and was blown away with your playing and stage presence, it was warm and affable, yet you took no prisoners when you played. It seems to me there is a large difference between classical performances and blues performances, and crowds - do you like the engaging persona of blues audiences, and did you find this in classical performances?
LY: Here's what I've found about those audiences. I don't think that their is that much difference. People are people. The music is either good or bad. When the music is good, classical or blues audience will react to it. I've seen and experienced classical audiences go nuts crazy over a good performance. It could have a deep effect on you like it did me sometimes. I remember seeing a Vladimir Horowitz recital, and an Ornette Coleman show not long after that had about the same lasting good effect on me. They both gave me so much energy that you almost feel like you could run through a brick wall.
BB: Can you tell us some more about your classical training, and some of the events you played at thru those connections?
LY: Some the more memorable events were traveling to Europe, specifically Austria and Switzerland as a teenager with the Pittsburgh Youth Orchestra, getting a full scholarship to Indiana University and studying with Josef Gingold. Playing in LA for part of the summer at Universal Pictures Studio Orchestra, playing at Carnegie Hall in New York, going to the Olympics in "88 in Seoul Korea with the National Repertory Orchestra.
BB: Would you say these prepared you for the move to the blues scene?
LY: Most definitely these prepared me to move to the blues scene. Any time spent in front of an audience prepares you for any other time. Being in front of an audience isn't natural but becomes more natural with practice. That's why a lot of people get stage fright. I got it too. That doesn't happen much any more. I get a little anxious sometimes, but not like when I was a kid when my legs would shake and my mouth would be dry and it was hard enough to stand there and almost impossible to make music. You have to relax and breathe. No matter what kind of music you're playing, you can only communicate your state of being.
BB: The Blues, why? Did it just present itself to you one day, or was it always there waiting to be discovered by you?
LY: I think in a previous life, I played the blues guitar or bass. For a while, I tried to play with a slide on the violin. It almost worked but it wasn't quite right. It was when I first took a slide to guitar that I really felt that I'd done it before. Everything just fit. I seemed to know where things were without any real practice. The real blues is always there waiting to be discovered by everybody. It seems like it was always there in my life. Why not blues? It's great music and I love it. It's changed me and I know it's changed most of you. It shows up at transformation points, and turns negative situations into positive energy. It has everything I need in it. In it there's a microcosm of everything else. It feels like it's essence has always been here.
BB: There is a history of violin in the Blues, from the Jug Bands, to the Folksy Good Time Music of the 60's, to Papa John Creach - did any of this inspire you, or encourage you to pursue the blues?
LY: To tell you the truth, no it didn't really encourage me to pursue playing the blues though I wish I could say it did. I was more into the general sound of the Blues. As we all know, it would appear in all kinds of music and in many ways like for me Aretha or Count Basie or Ray Charles. I was more shock influenced by the sound of Hendrix, Blind Willie Johnson, Howlin' Wolf & John Lee Hooker. It was later when I heard Charlie Patton or early Muddy or the Mississippi Sheiks and Sugar Cane Harris that I realized that the violin had been there all along. By then in my life I was already deep into the blues music, so it did inspire and encourage me but I'd already tried to play the sounds I heard on the violin. Nothing inspired me more that hearing Hendrix. I can still remember trying to imitate what he did on the only thing I knew how to play at the time, the violin. I think that the violin was kind of fazed out of the blues and popular music. My guess as to why that happened is that it probably had to do with how it was perceived, like it was old fashioned or it was king in some bygone musical era. Also, I think that this happened partly because it wasn't loud enough compared tohorns and later the electric Guitar. I got a chance to speak with Claude Fiddler Williams a few years ago (1999) in Kansas City. He played violin and guitar with Count Basie. He told me that as a condition to get signed, John Hammond senior told Count that he had to get rid of the strings, so he was out. I believe that the time for the violin to be out of the blues and other popular music is forever passed to the past. I see it coming back. There's just too many of us violin players and there are so many newer electric violins that volume isn't an issue any more. I'm so glad you asked this question. In a way for me, when I saw it, it was like opening Pandora's box. I sincerely believe that part of what my spirit in this body is here to do is tied in with the violin and is connected with winning the IBC in Memphis this year. The violin has enjoyed many years of being the alpha or dominant instrument in the orchestra. I'm in love with it. It can do so many different things musically. It's said to be the musical instrument most like the human voice. I could see no reason why it wouldn't have a more prominent place in blues or other popular music. I have to admit that in coming to this years IBC, I had something to prove.
After I won the solo/duo part of the IBC in 2008, I was a little bothered at how I was perceived. I'm not whining, I'm just saying. I'd hear whisperings about how the only reason I won was because I was playing a "novelty instrument". That's bullshit! I heard that some people were even upset that a non guitar player won and that my winning was just a fluke. That attitude (when I'd find it) really pissed me off. It discounted how hard I worked and the true love I had for the blues and all the great people that influenced me. It doesn't matter what you play as much as how you play, who you are and what you have to say. I really believe that. If someone played fork or a paper plate really well and could sing and make you feel something, theoretically they should have be given the same consideration at the IBC as someone playing a guitar, piano or harmonica. I saw that if I really believed that, I had to prove it and win the IBC again against all odds. By that I mean playing a violin primarily and winning twice. Winning once is hard enough. That can be a charm or a curse. It can be an obstacle if you attempt to do it again because the IBC process is based on subjective opinions. It's not who makes the most baskets or who crosses the finish line first. A judge could consciously or unconsciously score you less high just because you won it before giving someone else a chance. I saw that happen so I knew that whatever I did had to be strong enough to overcome that too.
BB: Do you find these two seemingly opposite styles of music complimentary and can you incorporate them within each others presentations effectively?
LY: I don't find the styles seemingly opposing and find them complementary. When I play, I sometimes use aspects of both classical, blues and everything else. Sometimes I try to make the classical music swing a little with rhythm and it works sometimes. Other times your thinking and playing chord progressions.
BB: You have won the International Blues Challenge twice now, one in 2008 for Solo/Duo, and now in 2011 as band, congrats. What made you 'go back to the drawing board' and form/re-form as a group?
LY: When I did the IBC the first time in 2008, I originally wanted to bring a band. The seed was sown then to come back and do it that way. It's just so much funner to play music with others than by your self. It was always in the back of my mind. That's why there were 6 of us in Memphis.
BB: How has the dynamic changed within the band, and do you think this is the best vehicle for what you are playing?
LY: The dynamic is in the process of shifting from being focused on doing our very best at the IBC to conquering the world as we know it. I'm having a little fun with this question but that answer is partly accurate. We want to focus on touring well, playing with the same commitment,drive and integrity that we had in Memphis. I want us to set our sights higher in the recording department by aiming for a BMA or eventually a Grammy. I'm not sure if it's the best vehicle for what I'm getting into or not. I'm sure it fun though. It's kind of like driving a high powered car. It's more of a luxury. I still like to play by myself too, but I prefer to play with others.
BB: Speaking of winning the IBC's, did you learn anything about the process, and intimacies of the Challenge, the first time that helped you prepare for the second, and resoundingly successful second attempt?
LY: Yes I did. I hate to sound cliche, but the more time you put into preparation, the better you'll do at anything you want to do. We spent a lot of time preparing. I wanted to do my best to put us in a position to win. First, I picked the best players I could find. There I started backwards. I started with the sound I wanted in my head first and picked musicians who best fit that image. Most but not all were already my friends but friendship wasn't a priority. Some I'd played with a lot. Some not so much. The most important thing was that they were great players that took pride in themselves and the way they played and knew how to play in the texture of the band. Before we played a note to prepare for the local preliminary rounds of the IBC, we worked backwards starting with the judging criteria. We'd talk about everything we did and would choose music according to the judging criteria, trying to maximize the heavier criteria like blues content, showing instrumental and vocal talent. We picked music that showed a good variety of rhythms and feels. We tried to be as original as we could be choosing songs that we wrote. If we did any covers they wouldn't be something you'd hear at a blues jam. They'd have to serve the purpose of scoring high in other criteria. We dressed up and had a blues dance instructor help us with stage presence & stage show issues. We went in the studio and recorded the "on the way to Memphis" CD which prepared us musically to have a CD's worth of music really down and tight. That was one of the hardest things we did. We timed everything, both the songs individually and sets as a whole so we wouldn't go over. The recording helped us with that. We even took a chance and did an all acapella song that ended up being a our secret weapon. It was a chance to score high in vocal talent if we did it well. We covered Sam Cook's "bring it on home". Not an original tune but an original way of doing it. We tried to do what I knew other bands wouldn't do to set us apart, like play a real slow blues or play real quiet or with good dynamics. I knew that making decisions to do stuff that set us apart would be advantageous going into the first IBC in 2008. Almost everyone else in the situation tries to bang you over the head with their music. The IBC a high pressure situation. Because of that we knew that most acts would play louder and faster but not slower and quieter. That's something I really learned from Josef Gingold, one of my violin teachers. He unlike most people, could play so quiet and beautiful, it would take your breath away. One thing I noticed about guys like BB and Buddy Guy and all the really good bands is that they can play really quiet. People listen harder and get sucked in. All this equipment and watts and amps doesn't matter as much. Don't get me wrong, I like to play loud and proud like anyone else. That's something that just feels good, but loud noises scare the little children and take away many people's ability to hear. Also, I really tried to connect with the audience by simply looking up. You'd be surprised how many people don't do that and how important it is to do. Most people want to feel something, a connection to you of some kind. That's just another thing to think about for any performer. It's really why you're there.
BB: Where there differences in the approach you took for these two different categories or was it about the same?
LY: The approach I took was the same, working backwards from the judging criteria. The difference between the two was that I had much longer to prepare for the band which was needed. Getting 6 people on the same page on anything is tough enough. Just getting 6 in demand musicians in the same room for a rehearsal can be challenging. Naturally, 6 people are harder to manage than just one. In 2008 with the solo/duo, I really didn't get serious until the weekend before the contest. Like many who go to the IBC, there was a send off performance before we left. I felt I played terrible there so I got to work and prepared seriously, practicing for as many hours as I could. In a way it felt like I'd been preparing for it all my life, but if I didn't really have what I wanted to do down, I would have felt that I wasted an opportunity . I learned an important lesson. Sometimes playing badly be good for you. It can spur you on to play well later.
BB: Looking at your 'set lists' on-line, we've got everything from W.C. Handy, Sinatra, and Sly Stone to Count Basie and Jimi Hendrix. It sounds like my CD collection. How do you go about selecting music to cover, what do you look for?
LY: First I get a panel of experts together and poll them on what covers they like. Then I use a computerized rating system. Just kidding. I play what'll fit the situation or what I'd like to hear in the moment.
BB: Not to be overlooked, your songwriting stands well on it's own. Do you have any influences as to style of writing, someone who you have heard and say 'yeh that's it'?
LY: I've heard a lot of people and said, "yea that's it". One of my best influences is a guy by the name of Johnny Long. He wrote and played lots of great originals. I know he's recorded for Delta Groove records. I played with him for a while and he introduced be to Homesick James at one point. He's just great. Everybody should know him. I wouldn't be who I am in the blues world without his influence and example. I love the way Sonny Boy Williamson wrote a song. Always interesting and makes you think. In a much different way, I love Otis Taylor because he breaks new ground and writes about heavy stuff. I like James Taylor as a song writer and have met and played with him. Most of what I right about comes from my experience in one way or another. Lately I've been writing about warnings and concerns around the topics of our environment and what I envision happening in the next year and 1/2. The way I see where we're at now is that we feel like we've been given platform to sing and speak on the challenges we're facing as people who are facing extinction. That's the stuff I care about. How are we gonna survive this next couple of years. Not just me, but everyone. I know that we're better and stronger if we help each other. That's part of why I take music so seriously. It brings people together. We need good music now today more than ever.
BB: Where are you and the band going now? Is there anything you guys are up to in the studio, summer festival time is almost upon us, where can we look forward to seeing you?
LY: We're setting our sights high. Why not go big? We have some stuff in the can that we can release when the time is right. Meanwhile, we're looking at situations where we can get our music out andmore available. There are some serious looks at some good companies and situations in the immediate future. Meanwhile, we're going to be all over the US, Canada, and the world in the next 8 months this being April. We're playing lots of festivals this summer. Most or all of where we'll be will be posted on our website at lionelyoung.net. We're presented with lots of opportunities and we what to make the best of them. Going to Europe in November, doing the Blues Cruise again. I'm excited.
BB: And so are we!Interviewer Chefjimi Patricola is a classically trained chef, blues loving writer and creative master of Blues411.com. He can also can be found on FaceBook and at festivals and clubs in your neighborhood and town.
Featured Blues Review 1 of 5
David Berchtold & Brian Stear - Ghosts of Music Past
15 songs; 55:20 minutes; Suggested
Styles: Acoustic guitar, harmonica, mandolin in Country Blues and Americana
Musicians playing for “free”? At first it sounds ludicrous, but it happens. Organized jams find players performing pro bono, fund raising benefits seek volunteers, and when an artist is invited on stage to join the featured act, usually no money is tendered for those songs. So, why would someone play for free?
When asked “why,” one artist told me, “I have a radio playing in my head 24 hours per day, I have no choice but to let it out.” The most common response is, “I just want to play out.” For those who truly have a muse, the music is in them, and it has to come out.
David Berchtold and Brian Stear have just that, a guiding spirit that is a source of inspiration. Both the muse and the music are in them, and those tunes have to be released.
On this CD, you will hear music from the heart not the head, and passion not perfection – the way music should be recorded. And, music fans everywhere are better off for it!
“Ghosts...” finds Berchtold and Stear covering an amazing array of American music across fifteen tracks as diverse as “How Long Blues” by Leroy Carr and Bob Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain” to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Summertime.”
“Parchman Farm” showcases some of the duo’s most passionate playing. David’s acoustic guitar is complemented by some of Brian’s most “down and dirty” harp. Brian also juxtaposes the acoustic lines with piercing notes from an electric guitar. Mose Allison’s ode to the famous prison has never sounded deeper.
"Moles Moan"-- this leading track's weird title invites curiosity: Why WOULD "moles moan?" In this peppy Folk/Country instrumental, check out the quavering rhythm and harmonica. Both are evocative of a train passing by, shaking wet, soggy ground and causing the critters beneath it to squirm!
"Going to California"--The Golden State has always been a popular destination in American history and folklore. This instrumental of the Led Zeppelin classic brings images to mind of rain, running, and love lost. Listeners get the feeling, deep inside, that this journey is not entirely happy or peaceful. Notice the pervasive minor chords here: this isn't the earnestly enthusiastic "Sweet Home Chicago."
"Fishin' Clothes"--"If that preacher'd stop talkin', I'd start walkin'--put on my fishin' clothes," sings David. There's no question where Berchtold’s and Stear’s minds are come Sunday morning! Compared to "Moles Moan," a lesser chugga-chugga train rhythm is present in this Piedmont/Atlanta blues. This true guilty pleasure is from Georgia’s Doug “Little Brother” Jones. David sings and picks while Brian adds peppy harp. Picture a kid at heart who doesn't want to get caught thinking about "a pole and a line" instead of the lines of Scripture! If you don't chuckle at this one, listen again.
"How Long Blues"--This ballad is as classic as blues songs can possibly get. Since it's been covered by countless notables like Eric Clapton, a listener might wonder: What makes this particular version of it unique? The harmonica does, for one, and an insistent ferocity in the sound of the other instruments. There's nothing melancholy about Berchtold and Stear’s rendition. There's an ever-so-slight undertone of anger in it, especially if you pay close attention to the volume of the instruments compared to the vocals. And, the harmony vocal chorus really packs a wallop!
"Come and Go Blues"--This song is a familiar Allman Brothers / Gregg Allman cover, although minus the original lyrics. It's sometimes strange what happens to a ballad when no one belts out the words. At first, listeners might sing along, and then something eerie occurs: one's voice and thoughts die away, leaving only the background chords. What message do these instrumental melodies convey? What memories do they evoke? For an interesting Blues homework assignment, compare and contrast the intro of this song with that of Joe Walsh's "The Confessor." It's the exact same set of chords; this set will bring comfort, the other chills.
David Berchtold & Brian Stear are two men on a heart and gut felt mission: play good music.Gentlemen, mission accomplished!
Amy Walker contributed to this review!
Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL
To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system, CLICK HERE.
Blues Society News
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Topeka Blues Society - Topeka, KS
The Topeka Blues Society presents the Spirit of Kansas Blues Festival 2011 July 4th at Reynolds Lodge, 3315 SE Tinman Circle on the east side of Lake Shawnee in Topeka, KS. Music is from noon to 9 p.m. followed by fireworks. Admission is FREE!
The lineup includes 2011 Grammy and BMA award winner (with Kenny Wayne Shepherd) Buddy Flett, 2011 IBC Runner-Up and "Love, Janis" star Mary Bridget Davies Group, 2011 IBC finalists Grand Marquis, The Bart Walker Band with Reese Wynans (Double Trouble) on Hammond B3 and Paul Ossola (G.E. Smith and the Saturday Night Live Band) on bass, Mike Farris (Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies) with the McCrary Sisters and 2010 BMA Song of the Year winner Mike Zito.
There will also be food, arts and crafts and a car show. For more information go to www.topekabluessociety.org or find us on Facebook. Discounted hotel rooms are available at the Topeka Ramada Convention Center. Call (785) 234-5400 and ask for the Blues Society Group 6617.
Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA
The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents the 2011 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival July 1 -3, 2011 in Davenport, IA.
Artists scheduled to perform include Linsey Alexander, Jimmy Burns, Eric Gales, Paul Rishell and Annie Raines, Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers, RJ Mischo with Earl Cate with Them, Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King,“Way of Blues” Revue from Mississippi on Friday July 1st, Chocolate Thunder, Kevin Burt, Lionel Young Band, Johnny Nicholas, Ryan McGarvey, Peaches Staten, Mississippi Heat, Joe Louis Walker and a Koko Taylor Tribute featuring Nellie “Tiger” Travis, Chick Rogers, Jackie Scott and Delores Scott on Saturday July 2nd, and The Candymakers, Winter Blues Kids, Studebaker John and the Hawks, Harper, Chris Beard, The Paul Smoker Notet, Rich DelGrosso and John Richardson, Sherman Robertson, Mitch Woods and his Rocket 88s and Otis Clay on Sunday July 3rd.
For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.mvbs.org or call (563) 322-5837
The Alabama Blues Project - Northport, AL
Rural Members Association and the Alabama Blues Project presents the 14th Annual Freedom Creek Festival in honor of the late, great Willie King. The festival will be held Saturday, June 2nd 2011 from 11am until 10 pm at “Cookieman’s” Place at 1438 Hwy 17 South/Wilder Circle, Aliceville, AL.
The Rural Members Association is proud to announce the 14th Annual Freedom Creek Blues Festival founded by the late great Willie King and held this year in his honor, following his untimely passing in 2009. Lineup: international blues stars Super Chikan and Homemade Jamz will headline the show.
The festival will open gospel music from the Mississippi Nightingales. Blues bands will play all day, including the Alabama Blues Project Advanced Student Band, local bluesmen Clarence Davis and “Birmingham” George Conner, the Alabama Blues Women Review including Shar Baby, Rachel Edwards, B.J. Miller and Debbie Bond. Birmingham blues great Elnora Spencer band, Little G Weevil, the Missississippi Blues Boys . . . and more! Admissions is by suggested donation of $10. For more information: www.willie-king.com or call (205) 752 6263.
The Santa Barbara Blues Society - Santa Barbara, CA
The Santa Barbara Blues Society is the oldest existing blues society in the U.S. The next SBBS show will be on June 11 with dynamic band Café R&B! Check www.SBBlues.org for more info.
The Henderson Music Preservation Society - Henderson, KY
The Henderson Music Preservation Society presents the 21st Annual W.C. Handy Blues and Barbecue Festival in Henderson on June 11-18. The festival will host performances in a wide variety of blues styles, from gritty Chicago blues to smooth soul to Delta blues. The lineup includes Preston Shannon, The Amazing Soul Crackers, The Cold Stares on Wendesday June 15, Matt Schofield and Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience on Thursday June 16, Dana Fuchs, Guitar Shorty, Deanna Bogart, Mightychondria, Beasley Band, Damon Fowler on Friday June 17 and John Primer with special guests, Lurrie Bell and Eddie Shaw, The Dynamites featuring Charles Walker, Carolyn Wonderland, Lionel Young Band, Eden Brent and Damon Fowler on Saturday June 18.
For more information about the festival, go to www.handyblues.org or contact: Christi G. Dixon at firstname.lastname@example.org, Marcia Eblen at email@example.com or call 1-800-648-3128.
The Blues Blowtorch Society - Bloomington, IL
The Blues Blowtorch Society presents the 2011 Central Illinois Blues Challenge on July 15 & 16, 2011 at Tri-Lakes in Bloomington, IL during the Ain't Nothin But The Blues Festival. The winner will be sent to Memphis in early 2012 to compete as our representative in the International Blues Challenge. To be considered bands must apply by June 18, 2011. The solo/duo acts competition is to be determined based on interest.
For further information and submission guidelines, please contact Deborah Mehlberg, Entertainment Director at: Deborah464@aol.com www.bluesblowtorch.org
West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, WV
The West Virginia Blues Society presents the 4th. Annual Charlie West Blues Fest May 20 & 21, 2011 at Haddad Riverfront Park in Charleston, WV . Showtime is 4 pm to 11 pm on Friday and Saturday 1 pm to 11 pm, with after jam to follow both nights at The Boulevard Tavern. Admission is FREE ! That’s right, FREE to everyone !Over the two day period we will be having over 18 acts performing on both stages. There will be plenty of food vendors to suite your fancy along with beer and wine sales this year.
The lineup includes Sit Down Baby, Izzy & Chris, Kinds of Crazy, Lil Brian & The Zydeco Travelers, Davina & the Vagabonds and Joe Louis Walker on Friday and Lionel Young Band, Slim Fatz, Mojo Theory, Sean Carney, Kristine Jackson, Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King and Ana Popovich on Saturday. For more info contact: 304-389-1439 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.charliewestbluesfest.com or www.wvbluessociety.org
The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL
2011 Friends of the Blues shows -May 19 - The Sugar Prophets (2011 IBC Finalists), 7 pm, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, June 23 - Sean Chambers, 7 pm, River Bend Bar & Grill,
July 13 - Reverend Raven & C.S.A.B., 7 pm, River Bend Bar & Grill. For more info see: http://www.wazfest.com/JW.html
Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL
The Illinois Central Blues Club presents "Blue Monday" every Monday night for the last 25 years - BLUE MONDAY SHOWS - Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $3 cover. May 9 - The Blues Deacons, May 16 - James Armstrong, May 23 - Eric "Guitar" Davis and the Troublemakers, May 30 – Steve the Harp, June 6 – Matt Hill, June 13 - Frank Herrin & Blues Power, June 20 – Roger ‘Hunnicane’ Wilson, June 27 – Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat. icbluesclub.org
The Alabama Blues Project - Northport, AL
The Alabama Blues Project is proud to present the annual "Blues Extravaganza" Friday May20th 6pm at the Bama Theatre, 600 Greensboro Avenue, Tuscaloosa AL.
The show features Grammy winner Sugar Blue and the Alabama Blues Project student blues musicians. Sugar Blue is the Grammy-winning harmonica player who has played and recorded with Johnny Shines, Willie Dixon. Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and the Rolling Stones, amongst many others.
This annual celebration is the culmination of the Alabama Blues Project's after-school Blues Camp program and features our young students, alongside internationally renowned blues artist. The event will feature blues all night long showcasing our Blues Camp musicians' bands and our Blues Instructors Bruce Andrews, Shar Baby, Stuart Bond, BJ Reed, Debbie Bond and BJ Miller.
Featured Blues Review 2 of 5
Lee Pons - Big Boogie Voodoo
10 tracks - Total time: 33:30
New Orleans-influenced blues and boogie pianist Lee Pons holds degrees in both piano performance and composition from Julliard, and has played music professionally from classical to heavy metal. Currently living in Tampa Bay, Florida, he won the Creative Loafing award in 2009 for Local Blues Artist of the Year, and was a semifinalist in the 2010 International Blues Challenge. Credentials like these show that Pons can play the piano, technically; Big Boogie Voodoo shows that he also can play it with all the soul needed to really play the blues. Moreover, Pons provides gruff, gravelly baritone vocals with multi-faceted emotional delivery that only add to the soulful piano mastery, rendering this CD of five vocals and five instrumentals short but sweet—compact, and thoroughly complete and satisfying in its only 33 minutes and 30 seconds of playing time.
All ten tracks are Lee Pons originals that stylistically run the gamut from traditional boogie through New Orleans- and Kansas City-flavored instrumentals, from Ray Charles-inflected gospel soul to tributes to the piano greats of the Crescent City. Pons is an accomplished artist who can both play and compose in the styles of Pete Johnson, Professor Longhair, James Booker, Ray Charles, and the classic boogie pianists, and moreover, do it in numbers that they themselves would be proud to perform and record. The Pete Johnson-Kansas City influence is felt in track 9’s instrumental, “BoogieRobics,” while the Professor Longhair feel comes through clearly in track 5’s up-tempo vocal lament over a woman who mistreats him, “Her Mind Is Gone.” “Dr. James,” track 2, is another vocal, a tribute to the seminal James Booker, while track 3, “Blues for Naw’lins” and track 7, “Me Minus You,” are pensive gospel-inflected soul vocals that follow Ray Charles, most notably in the approach he took to “Georgia On My Mind.” “Me Minus You” is a well-done blues staple of romantic loss, but “Blues for Naw’lins” is significant as an elegiac tribute to that renowned Louisiana city at the end of the Mississippi River, a reminiscence of both her pre-Katrina greatness touched by an expectant hope that, as the song’s last line puts it, “You’ll be back twice as strong.” “Buttend Boogie,” track 6, is a salacious rhumba celebration of a bootie-shakin’ mama on the dance floor, and of Pons’s wish to join her in shimmy shakin’.
Big Boogie Voodoo’s opening track, “The Voodoo Boogie,” and track 8, “Radiate the 88s,” are traditional boogie instrumental romps, while the last track, “I Did It,” applies the medium-tempo instrumental boogie specifically New Orleans-style. Track 4, “The Gospel According to Lee,” slows things down for a poignantly ruminative instrumental that combines both gospel and blues influences. The last three tracks are all instrumentals that move from fast-tempo to slower-tempos, and end the CD on an elegant piano-emphasizing note, as they range from “Radiate the 88s” through “BoogieRobics” to “I Did It.”
Lee Pons not only plays a number of different styles here, he plays them all well, and has his own particular flairs as well, especially in his ability to effectively utilize the very low end of the piano in this bass playing, and the very high notes in his treble playing, all the while continuing solid in the middle registers. Pons is a versatile and accomplished player indeed, with thoroughly a bluesy gravelly baritone voice that complements his piano with equally versatile and accomplished vocals. Big Boogie Voodoo rocks well besides, making this a CD both for listening and for dancing. Just what the masters intended.
The sleeve notes to Big Boogie Voodoo quote Pons as saying of his approach here, “Stripped down to just piano and vocals…every note has to count.” They do indeed.
Reviewer George "Blues Fin Tuna" Fish hails from Indianapolis, Indiana, home of blues legends Yank Rachell and Leroy Carr. He has written a regular music column for several years. He wrote the liner notes for Yank Rachell’s Delmark album, Chicago Style. He has been a blues and pop music contributor for the left-wing press as well, and has appeared in Against the Current and Socialism and Democracy.
Featured Blues Review 3 of 5
Nebojsa Buhin Nebo - Six String Diary
Another Eastern Europe review here at Blues Blast. Nebo and his band hail from Croatia and play a form of music that occasionally hints at blues but is more aptly classified as fusion jazz-rock. Sanctioned by the Ministry of Culture from the Republic of Croatia and apparently with at least a blessing by Jay Sieleman and the Blues Foundation (whom Nebo thanks in the liner notes), this is an all-instrumental album. All the tracks are originals except the closing cut, Eric Clapton's "Behind the Sun".
The opening instrumental track "My Own Texas" has a blazing harmonica line by Kreso Oremus and some hot and stinging guitar by Nebo. It shows the blues influence and that the blues are making an impression in one of the former Yugoslavian Republics. "Rollin'" is a hot dual guitar piece done in a Dickey Betts or Marshal Tucker-like style. It is a big, southern rocker track featuring Greg Koch on guitar along with Nebo. They get into it together with this very up tempo dual guitar attack. Very authentically American in the approach to souther rock sound.
The rest of the CD is a blend of fusion, cool jazz, world music, and older new age music. At times it reminded me of George Winston's style on piano (who is amazing in his own right and the various keyboard players hear hold their own) mixed with George Benson's style on guitar and with an overall synthesized sound. It's not bad, mind you, but the blues influences ended on track one.So if you want to see what a fusion of synthesized Croatian jazz and rock sounds like, this will fill your needs. It's kind of fun and there is a big production of sounds behind this CD. Fans of Weather Report and that era of fusion jazz will enjoy this CD. Musically, really Nebo brings it. He's a creative artist who plays extremely, writes good songs and brought together some fine musicians to play with him. But it's really not blues to me.
Featured Blues Review 4 of 5
Samantha Fish, Cassie Taylor, Dani Wilde - Girls With Guitars
12 tracks; 44.42 minutes
For several years now Ruf Records in Germany has arranged a tour entitled “Blues Caravan”, usually comprising three different artists playing together and separately in concert. There are dates through the year encompassing much of Europe and selected festivals in the States – this year the Caravan will be on the Pacific LRBC in October. Dani Wilde is a veteran of this format having previously toured with Candye Kane and Deborah Coleman a few years ago, but the other two are new to the Caravan format: Cassie Taylor is the daughter of Otis and has played bass and sung with her father for some time; Samantha Fish is a guitarist from Kansas City who at age 21 is making her way in the business, so this is an excellent opportunity for her.
Produced by Mike Zito (who adds guitar to two tracks), the CD contains three originals from each girl, one collaboration between the three and two covers. Cassie plays bass throughout and Samantha and Dani share rhythm and lead duties. All three girls sing, tending to lead on their own compositions. The only other player is drummer Jamie Little who is English and the current drummer for both Sherman Robertson and Hamilton Loomis when they tour in Europe.
The covers bookend the CD which opens with the girls’ take on the Stones’ “Bitch”. Each girl takes a verse, so we get an early intro to their voices. Dani has a strong, soulful voice, Cassie has a lighter voice and Samantha is perhaps in the middle. On the choruses their three voices blend excellently. Lead guitar here is Dani with a short solo. “Satisfy My Soul” is Cassie’s song, a catchy tune that moves along well, her quieter voice producing a hypnotic effect on a song propelled by Samantha’s rhythm and a wah-wah solo from Dani. This is followed by Dani’s more soulful “Mr Loving Man”, the two guitars reminding us of Memphis. Samantha’s “We Ain’t Gonna Get Out Alive” sees her taking lead guitar and vocals, with Mike Zito on eerie slide, a suitable tone for a song that sees doom approaching - “I know this love gonna drive me six feet in the ground”. Dani is absent from this track, but is found all on her own on “Reason To Stay”, accompanying herself on dobro on a song that is almost a prayer with the singer asking for somebody to love.
Next up is the collaboration between all three girls, “Get Back”. As on “Bitch” the girls take a verse in turn, in this case Samantha, Cassie, Dani. The song is a mid-paced rocker, with screaming guitar from Mike Zito the only instrumentation apart from the rhythm section as both Samantha and Dani concentrate on vocals here. “Come On Home” is a trio effort with Samantha singing soulfully and playing guitar on her own composition, some nice slide playing underpinning a slow number with a bit of a country blues feel to it. “Leaving Chicago” is Cassie’s song and is also a trio effort with Samantha again using slide. The song starts slowly with a wistful vocal about being sent away (“You said I was sexy but you couldn’t look me in the eye”) and has a sad quality to it which is emphasised by the slide guitar. “Wait A Minute” is Samantha’s third feature, with both the other girls on backing vocals, a catchy rhumba with a nice solo.
“Move On” is Cassie’s third tune, more of a rocker this time, with emphatic drums and a strong guitar riff and solo from Samantha. Dani’s final song is “Are You Ready?” on which she sings and plays lead against Samantha’s slide, all three girls on backing vocals. I liked both these songs which are immediately catchy and radio friendly (if only such music made it on to radio anymore!). The album closes with the second cover, Paul Pena’s “Jet Airliner”, a song made famous by Steve Miller. The girls’ version does not add a lot to the better known version, but it is such a good song you just have to like it! Samantha handles guitar duties here and all three again trade vocals.
I found this CD to be one that grows on you and I would expect the live shows to be very enjoyable. Look out for the Blues Caravan Tour when it comes your way.
Review John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music. He was recently on the January 2011 Legendary Blues Cruise.
All Shades Of Blues
”Forceful, robust and soulful offering from South Florida blues vocalist Beverly Lewis.”
Available for download at ITunes, CDBaby and Amazon.
CD/Vinyl versions sold at
Featured Blues Review 5 of 5
Todd Sharpville - Porchlight
String Commander – MIG Music
Disc 1 – 7 tracks/37:54 & Disc 2 – 8 tracks/45:29
If you are looking for a musician with a unique story to tell, Todd Sharpville more than fits the bill. He is London-born, descended from royalty and has even been offered a chance to run for a seat in the British parliament. He won several British blues music awards, including one in 1995 for “Best British Guitarist” over fellow nominee Eric Clapton. Additionally he has been an advocate of the Fathers rights movement following a lengthy battle with his ex-wife over visitation rights for their two children. And just as Sharpville started to work on this project, his father – the 3rd Viscount St. Davids - passed away unexpectedly.
Dedicated to the memory of his father, Porchlight is a two disc set that gives listeners an in-depth look at Sharpville's many talents. Besides his skill on guitar, he is accomplished vocalist and a deft songwriter, composing all but one of the fifteen tracks. And you have to be good to get musicians like Joe Louis Walker, Kim Wilson and Duke Robillard to be part of your project. The band consists of Bruce Bears on keyboards, Jessie Williams on bass and Mark Teixeiria on drums. Besides playing on one cut, Robillard filled the role of producer.
The opening tune, “If Love is a Crime”, finds Sharpville in the clutches of a captivating woman and begging for his release, framed by Wilson's rich harp tones. “Lousy Husband (But a Real Good Dad)” takes a honest look at Sharpville's domestic situation as he trades biting guitar licks with Robillard. The stripped-down sound on “Used” serves to enhance the painful emotions captured in the lyrics. “Why Does It Rain” is a highlight with a soaring performance from Sharpville backed by a horn section of Doug James on baritone sax, Mike Tucker on tenor, Scott Aruda on trumpet and Carl Querfurth on trombone. Wilson returns on “Can't Stand the Crook”, a frenetic rocker that takes to task those who lead us into war under false pretenses, featuring some blazing hot guitar from the leader.
“Old Feeling” is a smoky ballad with a rich vocal from Sharpville.
Highlights on Disc 2 include the hard rocking “When the World's Not Enough”, a tale of a man lead into a life of crime by love, with Wilson blowing more great harp. Walker and Sharpville take turns squeezing notes out of their guitars as the pace slows on “When the Blues Come Calling”. Wilson delivers a stunning solo on “Misery”, a two minute masterpiece worth the price of admission. The cut is further enhanced by Sharpville's downhearted vocal and a solo that nearly matches Wilson's.
Many listeners will not be amused by the mentions of violence toward women on Shel Silverstein's “If That Ain't Love What Is”. And the dark “Legacy of Greed” rehashes topics covered more effectively on other songs. But the fat sound of Doug James' baritone kicks off “Whole Lotta Lady”, a cut that would get the dancers on their feet. Sharpville wrote “Busted in Pieces” while he during a month-long hospital stay for depression following the break-up of his marriage. Tucker's wailin' tenor sax provides a spark. The title song is Sharpville's musical meditation on the passing of his father, with his emotions laid bare until he and the band take off on a spirited romp to finish things off in style.
These performances represent a man's struggles to deal with his personal demons – which is what the blues is all about. Sharpville is still standing, having created this musical testimonial to his indomitable spirit and exceptional talent. Available on-line at the price of a single disc, this one is definitely recommended.
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